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Call for expressions of interest for EPIM fund on protecting access to rights for mobile EU citizens

In 2015, 15.3 million EU citizens were living in a Member State other than their own. While free movement is at the core of European integration, the question of EU citizens’ mobility has become increasingly politicised as negative sentiments about this issue reached a peak during the UK EU referendum and the debates that accompanied it.

According to EPIM, mobile EU citizens may “fall through the cracks” of public policies and actions, both at the national and local levels, hindering access to their rights and entitlements. Firstly, mobile EU citizens are not considered as “migrants” and are therefore not taken into account in policies addressing ‘third-country nationals’. Their entitlement to social rights mostly depends on their relationship to the labour market. Secondly, many EU citizens are also not aware of their own rights. Finally, at the policy level, the Citizens Rights Directive (2004/38/EC) is being transposed into national legislation, interpreted and applied by EU Member States in an increasingly restrictive manner.

As a consequence, the welfare safety net for mobile EU citizens keeps narrowing throughout Europe in law and policy but also in practice: while in Northern Europe, restrictions are increasingly built into law and regulations, in Southern Europe, the law is less restrictive but open to narrow and discriminatory interpretation by service providers. Across Europe, these restrictions already impact upon the lives of mobile EU citizens who face discrimination in accessing social services, leaving many without health care, housing, family benefits etc. There is a high risk for ‘Brexit’ to further encourage a ‘race to the bottom’ as far as mobile EU citizens’ access to rights is concerned.

Meanwhile, advocacy by civil society organisations on the subject is limited. While many are supporting non-EU migrants, the issue of mobile EU citizens’ access to rights is only addressed by a small number of advocates and advocacy organisations.  With this call for proposals, EPIM aims to support civil society organisations which seek to engage at European level and have an advocacy and/or awareness raising focus, to:

– Increase EU institutions’ role in monitoring and providing guidance to EU Member States on the transposition, interpretation and application of the Citizens’ Rights Directive, and strengthen EU funding for the protection of mobile EU citizens’ access to rights;

– Counter the trend towards/limit the possibilities for a restrictive interpretation of the Citizens’ Rights Directive in Member State law, policy and practice, in particular with respect to vulnerable groups;

– Increase the extent to which mobile EU citizens can effectively secure access to/are aware of their entitlements, and have access to effective accountability mechanisms.

Strategic litigation, evidence gathering and good practice sharing will also be considered when part of advocacy strategies. This sub-fund will also support civil society organisations’ capacity to engage in the types of action mentioned above.

Organisations from all EU Member States including the UK can apply for this call for expression of interests. Funded projects will be able to run for up to 24 months starting in April 2017.  All eligible organisations are invited to submit an initial expression of interest by Monday, 9 January 2017.

Please use EPIM’s online application system and click on the tab ‘Login/Register’.  You will need to look at the following documents before applying:

DOC 1: Guidelines for the submission of a proposal
DOC 2: Budget template
DOC 3: Frequently Asked Questions

If you have any questions please email  EPIM Programme Manager, Sophie Ngo-Diep.